July 20, 2020

Biden’s Climate Plan

“Joe Biden released a $2 trillion plan [last] Tuesday to boost investment in clean energy and stop all climate-damaging emissions from U.S. power plants by 2035, arguing that dramatic action is needed to tackle climate change and revive the economy.” AP News

Read Biden’s plan here. Joe Biden

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From the Left

The left praises Biden’s plan, arguing that it is necessary to combat climate change and that it will benefit the economy.

“[Biden’s plan] promises to revive struggling auto towns in the midwest by building a new fleet of electric vehicles (a road the industry is already on). Since most renewable energy projects require land, rural areas are positioned to win with a wave of investment in wind and solar that brings hi-tech jobs to little towns along country blacktop roads…

“Other important solutions are at hand – planting cover crops for fall and winter to hold soil, suck up nitrogen and sequester carbon; planting grass along rivers to prevent pollution; new feedstocks such as sweet sorghum or hemp for carbon-neutral biofuels production: and on and on. The Farm Bureau on the right and the National Farmers Union on the left agree. We can reduce pollution of the Gulf of Mexico, and offset much of our carbon footprint, by planting a third more grass and a third less corn… Iowa climate and soil experts say we will have a difficult time growing corn, the world’s most-used crop, in 25 years… Biden’s $2tn green agriculture plan is ambitious but realistic.”
Art Cullen, The Guardian

“Biden emphasized his commitment to making sure the same people who have been left behind by globalization are not hurt again. ‘I’m setting a goal of making sure that these front-line and fence-line communities, whether in rural places or in city centers, receive 40 percent of the benefits from the investments we’re making — in housing, in pollution reduction, in workforce development, in transportation — across the board,’ he said… Trump’s knee-jerk reaction to the proposal — socialism! — rings hollow after four years of mammoth deficits and crony capitalism. If you are going to have a big and active government (there is no large constituency for small government outside libertarian circles), you might as well put it to good use in reducing carbon emissions and creating jobs.”
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

“The most encouraging aspect of Biden’s new climate plan is that it is also his plan for economic recovery… In ordinary economic times, mobilizing congressional support for massive federal intervention in the economy can be difficult, even if such intervention is ecologically necessary. The silver lining of the present calamity is that it has rendered private investors incapable of achieving a socially acceptable level of unemployment, and has thus broadened support for Uncle Sam stepping in to pick up the slack. And when the federal government is supplying the capital, it can allocate labor and real resources on the basis of social utility rather than market profitability.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

“Mr. Biden gets many things right. He aims to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from the United States by 2050, the year by which scientists recommend the planet stop adding heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. To do so, he proposes transitioning the country to emissions-free electricity sources by 2035. The former vice president includes nuclear power as a potential contributor, rejecting the irrational antinuclear sentiment among some environmentalists…

“The logical centerpiece of any such plan would be a policy that puts a steadily rising price on carbon dioxide emissions, such as a carbon tax, which economists have recommended for decades… Biden nodded to carbon pricing during his primary campaign, but he proposed this past week instead a more complex web of federal spending, subsidies and mandates… As much as possible, the government should be agnostic about how emissions are cut, leaving these decisions to private actors incentivized to avoid polluting, because they will find the most efficient ways. Mr. Biden’s plan all but gives up on that logic. Mr. Biden’s plan would do much good, and over the right time horizon. It is not bad, just less good than it could be.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

"Perhaps the biggest missing piece in Biden's plan is the international element. Climate change is an inherently international problem — the U.S. only emits about 13 percent of total greenhouse emissions, while China alone accounts for about 26 percent. The two major objectives of global climate policy must be somehow coaxing China into slashing its emissions and, at the same time, preventing the developing world (above all India) from following in its carbon-spewing footsteps… this will require a very large international investment fund to prevent poorer nations from building out the cheapest carbon-based power… unlike Sanders, Biden has no plan to offer international climate aid.”
Ryan Cooper, The Week

“[Trump] bewails the amount of time it takes for projects to clear environmental reviews and related court challenges, adding what, in his mind, are unnecessary costs and delays. To be honest, he may have something there. NEPA came into being five decades ago — signed into law by President Nixon — and it’s not out of line to suspect that there are places where the law and the regulations that arose from it could use some reasonable revising. But Trump and his industry-connected advisors are not the ones to trust with such a task…

“American voters face a fork in their own road this November — stay on the Trump expressway to environmental degradation and catastrophic climate change, or shift to the road, bumpy as it may be, to a cleaner environment and more sustainable future… The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week that unusually high tides led to record flooding among one-quarter of Atlantic and Gulf Coast communities where the agency maintains tide gauges. Climate change is no dystopian vision of the future; it is here.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

From the Right

The right criticizes Biden’s plan, arguing that it is too expensive and that it will harm the economy.

The right criticizes Biden’s plan, arguing that it is too expensive and that it will harm the economy.

“Biden released his revised climate change plan this week after appointing Ocasio-Cortez to co-chair his climate panel. And sure enough, the revisions made to his original climate plan came straight out of the Green New Deal’s playbook. Biden increased the plan’s overall spending, moved up the date when the power sector must be free of carbon emissions, and shifted the plan’s focus to the creation of ‘green jobs,’ which would eventually replace mining, fracking, and other fossil-fuel-related industries...

“It’s no wonder Pennsylvania’s workers, many of whom depend on the fossil fuel industry, are nervous about Biden’s leftward lurch. ‘Biden needs to steer his car out of the far-left ditch back to the middle if he wants us to support him,’ said Shawn Steffe, a business agent for Boilermakers Local 154 in Pittsburgh and a ‘lifelong Democrat.’ ‘It's not happening. I don't see my members voting for someone who will take away their jobs and pensions over something that has a lot of half-truths to it.’”
Kaylee McGhee, Washington Examiner

“Mr. Biden’s plan ‘connects tackling climate change with the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, while also addressing racism,’ writes the New York Times. Uh huh. Serious problems deserve to be treated seriously. If your surgeon told you he was going to address racism and the economy along with your coronary blockage, you would get off the table and run away…

“A year ago, when the primaries were in view, Mr. Biden at least offered a plan that contained an argument: The U.S. represents a minor and shrinking share of global emissions and therefore can’t fix an alleged climate problem with measures designed to grease domestic constituencies. Notice that there’s no mention of this reality in his latest plan, just a promise to throw green money at ‘union jobs.’…

“If Mr. Biden really cared [about climate change], he would propose a carbon tax. Washington could keep its corrupting mitts off investment decisions. The incentive to release less CO2 would permeate every choice made by consumers and businesses in the economy… [But] overnight, the Democratic focus went from climate policy to climate pork.”
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr, Wall Street Journal

“Biden says that on his first day in office, he will develop ‘rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be zero emissions.’… Keep in mind that as of today, plug-in electrics account for 0.5% of cars on the road, and made up less than 2% of new vehicles sold in 2019. And that’s despite massive public subsidies that have cost taxpayers $5 billion in credits to — mostly wealthy — EV buyers…

The CO2 advantage of electric cars is vastly oversold. These are not ‘zero emissions’ vehicles. They simply change the source of the emissions from the car to power plants — most of them powered by coal and natural gas. A study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that when you factor in CO2 emissions from electricity production, the average plug-in produces as much CO2 over its lifetime as a gas-powered car that gets 55 miles per gallon. The CO2 advantage of electric cars diminishes even more when you consider the entire lifecycle of the vehicle, including the environmental impact of mining required to manufacture the batteries.”
Editorial Board, Issues & Insights

“Biden is exploiting the coronavirus crisis in an effort to promote his sweeping economic stimulus proposals. This is ridiculous for several reasons. First and foremost, this isn’t the typical economic crisis in which there is an argument for government intervention to create jobs and increase demand… The fact that the economy added a record 7.5 million jobs in May and June by partially reopening is a testament to the country's underlying economic strength and the potential for a bounce back without fiscal stimulus from taxpayer dollars…

“There are also lines in the new climate plan, that fill us with foreboding, about investing in new faster rail projects. In 2011, Biden announced a six-year plan to build a ‘national high speed rail network.’ The administration’s efforts were such a disaster that the project stalled even in California, a liberal state dedicated to making it happen. Even left-wing Gov. Gavin Newsom was forced to scale the project back because it was unworkable, and there is no path forward for the promised Los Angeles to San Francisco line sold to state taxpayers a dozen years ago.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

“This is an obvious move to try to gin up some excitement among the climate activists in the liberal base. But much like Biden’s initial focus on amnesty for [illegal immigrants], is this really where the country’s priorities are today? Thanks to a combination of massive expenditures in pandemic relief and cratering revenues with the economy still largely shut down, we just finished logging a record-shattering expansion of our budget deficit. We’re looking at trillions more in losses before the end of the year. And now you want to dump another two trillion onto the pile…

“What will we be getting in exchange for all of this debt? Advances in renewable energy. And Biden is proposing this at a time when we just recorded the largest production capacity and domestic consumption of natural gas in recorded history. Oh, and natural gas prices for consumers hit a record low at the same time. We’re swimming in natural gas, a far cleaner and more environmentally friendly fuel than coal or oil. And we’ve got enough of it to take us well into the second half of the century.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

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